6 May 2014 Running for Weight Loss

It seems there are runs and races and marathons for all sorts of causes, and most of those causes are worthwhile, but one reason runners should be running is for themselves - for losing weight. Not everyone is built for running, and it is important to consult with experts and your doctor to find out if running is for you. Running can be hard on the joints if done incorrectly.

In the sport of running, there is an interesting fact, as noted by Rachel Cosgrove, C.S.C.S, which is that runners also struggle to lose weight. The reason is that they fall for a common trap: that training/running for fat loss and training for long-distance runs are “(almost) mutually exclusive.” The reason is that when training for a long run your body needs to adapt to run efficiently while expending little energy. When running for weight loss your body needs to avoid efficiency by constantly putting on greater demands on your body to burn calories and thus lose weight.

So how do runners lose weight running? Run less! That's right, Cosgrove suggests that we should forget about the “fat-burning zone” and running for at least an hour. Instead, running for shorter periods, but at greater intensity, is better for losing weight.

In a study published in the American Journal of Physiology, researchers found that 30-minute workouts resulted in greater weight loss than 60-minute workouts, and at the end of a 13-week study, the half-hour group lost 8.8 pounds while the one hour group lost 8.4 pounds.

Other studies have supported the idea that shorter, intense workouts are more effective for fat loss than steady-rate cardio. One such study had a group of women bike 20 minutes, three days a week, doing interval training. Another group biked 40 minutes at a steady pace. After 15 weeks, the shorter ride group lost an average of 5.5 pounds; while the longer ride group actually gained a pound of fat during the same time period!

For the runners out there who do want to lose weight, here's what the experts recommend.

  • Your body burns fat better when you run at a speed corresponding to 65 percent of your maximum heart rate. By feel, that's about a five on a 5-out-of-10 scale. The longer you can sustain this level, the more fat loss.
  • Don't get stuck on gels. Sports drinks and energy gels during fat-burning runs inhibit fat loss because the carb content reduces the muscles' reliance on body fat for fuel. Instead, eat a 200-calorie snack with carbs and protein 30 minutes to one hour after your run.
  • Go fast! Yes, the longer and faster you can run the more weight loss. In fact, your body will also continue burning fat for longer after you have run fast than when you run at a slower pace.

Tell us, runners, have you run for yourself lately?

Ryan Newhouse

Ryan Newhouse is the Marketing Director for MyNetDiary and writes for a variety of publications. He wants you to check out MyNetDiary on Instagram!

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Disclaimer: The information provided here does not constitute medical advice. If you are seeking medical advice, please visit your healthcare provider or medical professional.

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Exercise/Running

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